October 1-7 is National Walk Your Dog Week, an event designed to raise awareness about the importance of regular exercise for your dog’s health.
According to the official website, many dogs (and their humans) do not get enough exercise, which can lead to health problems like obesity as well as behavioral problems that arise from boredom and separation anxiety.
You can take the pledge to walk your dog for at least 30 minutes every day for one week. The folks at National Walk Your Dog Week want to hear from dog owners who have taken up this challenge. Chances are both you and your dog will be feeling better!
A new research study published in the journal Current Biology has come to a conclusion that cat owners have known all along—cats form strong emotional bonds with their humans!
The authors point out that although studies on canine behavior and cognition far outnumber those on feline behavior and cognition, the research that does exist shows that cats form social bonds with humans and other animals–and the bonds they form with their human caregivers are especially strong.
The researchers in this study observed how kittens in the 3-8 month age range behaved with their owners, then during a brief separation, and finally when they were reunited with their owners.
The kittens were first evaluated and divided into two attachment styles: securely attached and insecurely attached. Then a portion were enrolled in socialization training with their owners. The researchers found that their attachment styles were already strongly developed and did not change much after training.
During the separation/reunion component of the study, the kittens showed roughly the same rates of attachment to their people as both dogs and children. Around 66% were securely attached and 34% were insecurely attached. (Dogs are 58%–42% and children are 65%–35%)
How do cats show secure vs. insecure attachment? All the cats showed distress during the separation phase of the experiment (lots of meowing!) but the securely attached cats showed reduced stress when the caregivers returned. The insecurely attached cats remained at higher levels of stress when their humans returned.
Click HERE to watch a video of some of the cats and owners observed by the researchers. You can see how the cats’ reunion behaviors differ based on their attachment styles.
Researchers in the UK recently conducted a large-scale survey of owners of flat faced dog breeds like the Pug and French and English Bulldogs.
The findings show that while these breeds are very popular, owners often downplay the health problems associated with brachycephaly in their dogs.
Brachycephaly can cause a wide range of chronic health issues, including airway obstruction, skin fold infections, overheating, and corneal ulcers.
Many of the survey respondents said that their own dogs suffered from these health issues, and yet only a small percentage felt that their dogs were less healthy than average. In fact, over 70% of owners rated their dogs as either in “very good health” or “the best health possible.”
In an article on the study published by the Royal Veterinary College, the researchers note that our attraction to flat muzzled dogs can often lead us to rationalize their health problems.
One veterinarian involved in the study offered this important assessment of our role as responsible pet owners in addressing the health and well-being of our animal companions:
“After almost a decade working on brachycephalic dogs, I have come to realize that the issue is as much a human problem as it is a dog problem. As humans, we design, breed and choose the dogs we own but our dogs have to live, for better or worse, with those outcomes. With such great power comes great responsibility. Deeper understanding of the human reasons for our choices can help us make better decisions and to improve the welfare of our ‘best friend’.”